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Happy almost summer everyone!  There is so much going on that I wanted to share what I consider to be ‘important things to remember‘.  So here goes…..

Invest in yourself.  Continuing to learn and grow is an essential part of who I am.  I am a firm believer in investing in yourself.  At the end of May, I was joined by a group of fellow metalsmith friends and  took Chris Nelson’s three day Ferrous Musing workshop.  What a blast and wonderful educational experience.  We learned how to fuse gold to iron.  It is an amazing process and there are so many ways to expand our work with this technique.

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Left to Right, Frank Maiolo, Ginny Maiolo, Chris Nelson, Jodie Bliss, Sandy Murphy and me (Kathleen Krucoff)

In attendance were artists/friends I have known for a long time, Ginny & Frank Maiolo (Monument Moon Studio), Sandy Harris Murphy and Jodie Bliss.  We are calling ourselves the Monument Chapter of the Ferrous Musing Gang.  Our respective works are as diverse as our personalities.  Chris had just finished speaking at the Santa Fe Symposium and was brimming with tons of ideas and information for us.

This is the first piece I completed during the workshop. I am happy to report that I have more pieces in the works too.

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For all you metalsmiths out there, this is a great workshop.  Our gang plans on taking another workshop with Chris once we hone our skills from this one.  Points of interest on this workshop, Chris covers salt water etching, tool making (chisels for creating your unique textures on metal), fluxes, patinas, pickle, alloying and fusing gold.  Well worth the price of admission and then some.  I believe we all felt we would only be limited by our own imagination.

Be an active participant.  Get involved in your community.  If you are an artist, I strongly recommend participating in local events and getting to know your fellow artists.  This week has a couple of special events that are near and dear to my heart.

  • Art Hop, Monument, CO.  June 19th is the Third Thursday of the month and Art Hop will be in full swing.  Nancy Bonig and I will be at Santa Fe Trail Jewelry from 5 – 8 PM.  Each of us will be doing demos of  at least one of the techniques we use in our respective works.  I can promise this will be fun!  Ginny, Frank and Jodie will be over at Jodie Bliss’ Studio too.  One of the threads that ties all of us together is we are artists in this year’s Front Range Open Studios.  Stop by and visit with us.

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  • The Glass Elements Show, Manitou Springs, CO.  Opening reception for this show is Friday, June 20th from 5 – 8 PM.  Show location is the Manitou Art Center, 513 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, CO.  This exhibit runs through August 10th.  An added bonus is several of us have created works from the glass remnants found from last year’s Black Forest Fire.  I have seen some of the works and I can tell you this is a very special show.

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Remember the pickle pot.  I have to leave you with something humorous.  I guess some people wouldn’t share their mistakes.  I have learned to laugh at myself and I am grateful for this; my philosophy is life is too short to take yourself too seriously.

After learning so much in the Chris Nelson workshop, I had to purchase a number of things so I could start to use the new technique.   New items in my studio are:

  • A new torch set up, including new fuel tanks.
  • A new work station area.
  • Different flux & pickle (the acid solution to clean your metal).

Sunday I was finishing up my preparations to have everything ready for the new process.  Time to fire up the new torch.  Well, that was a disaster which will be the subject of another blog post!  I’ll leave it at, no fire or undo harm occurred to me or my studio.  I just needed to master the lighting and use of the new torch.  As with all things, practice is essential and important.

I eventually did managed to fuse gold and put the items in my newly prepared pickle for cleaning.  I now have 2 separate pickle pots, each with a different cleaning agent.  We had been warned not to leave things in the iron/gold solution too long as all could be lost, i.e., consumed by the pickle!  I set a timer so I wouldn’t forget, pulled my pieces out and they looked awful….a tangled, globby mess of junk.  I was frustrated.  This on top of the anxiety I had experienced with a new torch/gas set up was too much.  As I will do when things are not going well, I turned everything off, slowly backed out of the studio and closed the door.  Securing a glass of wine in one hand, I found a spot on the couch and snuggled with a loving basset hound to nurse my perceived wounds.

Monday evening a practice run with the torch proved successful!  One hurdle tackled.  On to the pickle pot.  I had turned it on so the solution could heat as I was going to place my pieces in it again to attempt to clean them one more time.  This time I decided to check how warm the pot was, felt the side and it was cold.  It was at that point that the light dawned….I may have turned the pot on, BUT since it was a new pot, I had NOT PLUGGED IT INTO THE SOCKET!  In the words of Homer Simpson, “DOH!!!!”

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Pot plugged in, solution warmed, pieces submerged.  The appropriate amount of time later, pieces were cleaned!

There are several morals to this story.

  1. When you are having problems, making mistakes, I have found it is best to stop and retreat.  Get some rest and come back to it another day if at all possible.
  2. Retrace your steps.  Never assume (ya, I think we’ve all seen that diagram of the word assume).
  3. And yes, it is just as important to turn your pickle pot on (check the power supply to the pot) as it is to turn it off.

In the very near future, I will be writing a blog post about my new Meco torch, an oxygen/acetylene set up.  Given how limited information was on the web about this, I will review and with Dan’s help, post a video on important aspects about this type of system.

Until next time, (hope to see you at some of the local events), aspire to be more as a person and an artist.

 

 

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Express Yourself
Photo by ~ Daniel Krucoff

I would like to introduce my newest series, Express Yourself…a little touch of Colorado.  The little touch of Colorado are the Aspen leaves.

For a number of years I have wanted to inject Aspen leaves in my work.  Now I have.  In this series, every earring will have an Aspen leaf in either bronze or copper.

Thanks to Andrea Kennington of NC Black Hammers, I learned a bit about metal forming.  I took a workshop with Andrea a year ago at Sandy Harris-Murphy’s studio here in Colorado Springs.  Even though I was “sicker than a dog” during the workshop, I managed to pick up some of the techniques and some pretty cool tools too.  If you haven’t tried NC Black’s hammers yet, and you are a metalsmith, well, I would highly recommend you get a few of their hammers for these techniques.

The thing that makes these earrings so enjoyable for me is their uniqueness and how it is serious playing with metal as I put the components together.  No two pairs are alike.  I don’t have a design in mind as I start to fabricate them, I just ‘wing it’ as I go along.  The process is very similar to what I did when I used to wire wrap my glass cabochons….no design, just an image in my mind and it flows from there.  I love that part of the creative process.  As you can see, I use a mixture of metals and materials.  It’s sort of like making soup with whatever you have around the house.  In this case, I sit at my bench, and have an assortment of items that I pick and choose from to see what plays well together.  It’s a blast for me!

A few of my Aspens provided the shape for the leaves.  I plucked some leaves last spring, that were new growth from some of the branches I had pruned to help promote growth in the trees.  Now they are helping to provide growth in my work.  The technique I use to form the leaves is one of the ones Andrea taught which involves my rolling mill, torch and a variety of the NC Black hammers to texture and shape the leaf so it’s 3 dimensional, rather than flat.  Love it.

This pair has fresh water pearls, mokume-gane, oxidized sterling with 14kt gold filled wire, and textured copper.  Added bonus, they are super lightweight, which makes them so easy to wear and people hear tiny little ‘tinkles’ from their movement.   When I wear mine, I don’t hear them, but others have remarked they can hear them and they way they move, they really do direct people’s eyes to check ’em out.  I like that.

Yesterday I delivered my first batch of these to Marylee at Santa Fe Trail Jewelry in Monument, CO.  She liked what I had and took everything!  Thank you Marylee.  So, lucky me, I get to make more and it’s a pure joy to ‘play’ at my bench like this.  I think pendants would be a nice touch too, what do you think?

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.

Kathleen Krucoff


Artist and Metalsmith

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